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Salop / Saloop

An infusion of aromatic herbs and ground orchid root, formerly used as a tonic or cure.

In the 18th century it was a beverage for fashionable townspeople. It probably owed it rise to the increase in traffic from the East Indies. In most countries of the East , drinks were prepared from the dried and powdered roots of various species of orchids, and they were widely regarded as aphrodisiacs. English merchants would have encountered a sugar-sweetened version in the East Indies.

A similar drink, was already known in parts of England made from "dogstones" (the roots of the native orchids) and ground sago - so resembled a thin gruel, but English druggists began to sell imported Turkish orchid roots with which to make a superior form.

Salop powder was stirred into water until it thickened, then the liquid was sweetened and seasoned with rosewater, orange-flower water or a similar fashion to the thin sago drink. The powder could also be made up with milk. "Drink it in china cups as chocolate; it is a great sweetener of the blood" advised one recipe.

At the height of its popularity (in the 1720"s) salop was served in coffee houses as an alternative to coffee or chocolate; and salop-vendors peddled the drink in the streets, or sold it from booths.

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